Make Avocado Dye to Upcycle T-Shirts

Did you know that you could make avocado dye at home out of your guacamole scraps?

Avocados have a special tannin, an acid present in plants, that turns fabric to beautiful a beautiful pale pink or peach color. This tannin acts as a mordant, or fixative, that helps the dye to stick to the fabric fibers. Learn how to extract tannin from the pit and skin of avocados to make your own fabric dye!  

Materials you will need:

  • Skins and pits of two avocados
  • A large stainless steel pot
  • Heat safe container (bowl, basin, pot)
  • A strainer or sieve
  • A clean white t-shirt (you could also use a bandana, scarf, tank top, whatever you like – just make sure it’s a natural fabric for best results)
  • Optional: gloves for handling dyed fabric (you can also just wash your hands afterwards!)
Avocado skin and pit pieces on cutting board

Directions:

  • Rinse the avocado off your pits & stones. You don’t need to be too thorough with this - the strainer will take care of any avocado pieces that are left behind.
  • Heat water on low heat in your stainless steel pot, enough for your pits & skins to float in. Just heat – don't boil! Be very careful as boiling will turn your dye brown.
Rinsing Avocado Pit Piece
  • Drop the pits into the water. Tear up the skins & drop them in. Don’t forget to remove any stickers!
  • Cover & let the water simmer on low heat. Check on it frequently. If the water is starting to bubble, lower the heat.
Avocado Pieces In Pot
  • Check on the water for color. Because plants vary & tap water can have different minerals in it, the time you will need to extract the tannin will vary as well – somewhere between 30 & 60 minutes.

  • Once you’re happy with the color, strain the dye into a heat safe container.

Straining Avocado Pieces
  • Repeat steps 2 – 6 with the same avocado pieces to make another batch. Do this as many times as you need until you have enough dye to submerge your t-shirt.

Avocado Pieces Recooking
  • Submerge your white shirt into the dye. You can either put a lid on your container to keep it warm or leave it out in the sun.
Submerging T-shirt In Dye
  • Let it sit! Leave your shirt in the dye for at least an hour. You can leave it overnight if you want a deeper color.

Avocado Shirt Dyeing In Tub
  • Remove your shirt & rinse it in cold water. You can let it air dry or throw it in the dryer by itself.

Avocado Shirt Rinsing In Sink
  • Admire your handiwork! You now have a fabulous new shirt made with natural dye.

Dyed T-Shirt

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